CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Greater Chicago Food Depository is using $2.6 million in grants to open four new food pantries and improve 22 existing food pantries to provide a better emergency food system in Chicago's Black and Latino communities.
The grants will expand food access primarily on the city's South and West Sides, including the four new food pantries. The 22 existing pantries will use the grants to improve facilities, expand operations and ultimately serve more people.
"A lot are essential workers and so a lot of them have gotten sick," said Pastor Antonio Mariscal of Iglesia Evangelica Emanuel, one of the GCFD's food pantries receiving a grant for improvements.
Pastor Mariscal said they are serving four times as many people as a year ago, so news of the grant was welcome.
"It's going to help us stay open and help us provide the necessary food for our community," he said.
The church also hopes to use the grant money to buy a bigger delivery vehicle, as the need for food from people who can't come
In total, the Greater Chicago Food Depository has announced nearly $5 million in grants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional investments will come throughout 2021, the organization said.
"One of the things we saw so clearly in the pandemic was how it was disproportionately impacting households of color," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Maehr said the grant commitment is a way to help those families most impacted by illness and job loss.
"Many of them will be the last to get called back up, so we are prepared for this need to last for months and possible years," she said.
The four new pantries that will open are located at:
Endeleo Institute in Washington Heights/Roseland
Inner-City Muslim Action Network (MAN) in Englewood/Chicago Lawn
New Life Centers of Chicagoland in South Lawndale
American Association for Single Parents in Dolton/Calumet City
The existing food pantries receiving transformative grants are:
Circle Urban Ministries in Austin
Hope Food Pantry in Austin
Iglesia Evangelica Emanuel in Belmont Cragin
Respond Now in Chicago Heights
Church on Fire International in Cicero
Chicago Lawn United Methodist Church Jesus Christ Food Pantry in Chicago Lawn
The Salvation Army: Englewood red Shield Center in Englewood
Shepherd's Hope in Englewood
Chosen Tabernacle Ministries in Grand Boulevard
St. Columbanus Church in Greater Grand Crossing
Thornton Township Pantry in Harvey (Dolton location)
Restoration Ministries in Harvey
Pilsen Wellness Center in Lower West Side, Brighton Park and South Lawndale
Pilsen Food Pantry in Lower West Side and South Lawndale
Lighthouse of Hope in Melrose Park
Hattie B. Williams Food Pantry in Oak Forest
Beyond Hungry in Austin
Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park
Sheldon Heights Food Pantry in Roseland
Windsor Park Lutheran Church in South Shore
Grace Central Outreach in Westchester and Maywood